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Careers Centre

Conflict resolution

Sector Overview

This page has been written by Kristyn Emmer, the relevant Careers Adviser for this occupational area. To see how you can meet Kristyn, or any of our advisers, visit our website.

Conflict resolution is an interdisciplinary field that analyses the causes of war and oppression and finds ways to manage conflict. In doing so, it tries to alleviate conditions, minimise violence and maximise justice while providing humanitarian relief on the front lines. People working in conflict resolution examine political, economic, and social systems as well as culture, ideology and technology as they relate to conflict and change. Their primary focus is on peacemaking.

If you want to pursue a career in this field, you may find first opportunities in community service, think tanks, lobbying, education, policy research, diplomacy, relief agencies, and NGOs. In recent years, developmental, governmental and multilateral organisations have recognised the link between development and conflict resolution and created positions in this area. There has also been an increasing involvement of the military in post conflict operations.

 

Conflict resolution attributes profile

 

Key attributes/skills needed for the role
Where you could develop these skills or attributes
The ability to advocate for others and to persuade

Presentations within your course and mooting or debating experience. A student representative role would also offer opportunities to develop these skills. CAPOD offers Communications Skills courses as part of its   Professional Skills Curriculum

Project management skills Organising roles within societies eg for events. CAPOD also offers courses on Project Management regularly within its Professional Skills Curriculum. Also master the use of EXCEL.
Risk management Adventurous sport or travel, entrepreneurial activity.

Other key attributes/skills demanded for the role: do you possess them?

  • Integrity:  a necessity to persuade others about your messages
  • Determination: the work is physically and emotionally demanding
  • Resilience: set backs are inevitable

 

Networks - why and how to use them

Networking is particularly important and can help you succeed with your applications. If you have been in contact with someone working for the organisation then you have extra information to back up your case for why they should employ you. Use social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook (many organisations have their own page) to connect with organisations. Alumni can make extremely useful contacts, giving you an "edge" with your applications and interviews. There are several ways to make contact with alumni.

Have a look at the Network with Alumni section of our website for more advice and information.

How to gain experience/internships

There is no specific career path for conflict resolution. As a result, useful entry level positions are diverse. To break into the field, you will want to consider an internship with a public interest organisation which gives you both experience and a network of contacts. You should also look at volunteer opportunities, particularly ones that address community or social issues, as they may turn into full-time employment. Organisations are always looking for innovative ways to resolve conflicts so you might want to gain mediation skills in a domestic setting that can be applied to the international field. It is also helpful to have overseas experience, particularly in a developing country, and to have worked in a multicultural section of a local community or city. Additionally, funding is always an issue for organisations focused on conflict resolution so candidates with a fundraising background who can procure new revenue sources are particularly attractive. As with the range of IR jobs generally, it is always helpful to acquire or improve your foreign languages.

How to get a (graduate) job

Obtaining jobs in conflict resolution is by not straightforward. Whatever you choose, you are likely to have to create the building blocks of your career through a mix of postgraduate training, experience, and skills. You will find the 'For More Than Profit' section of our 1001 jobs and internships database particularly useful in finding opportunities, as well as our Find Graduate Jobs page and the links below. In your job search, don't underestimate the value of making speculative applications. See our list of sample employers below for some suggestions on where to apply. Additionally, Networking is an essential skill to develop as you can make valuable contacts through short-term contract opportunities and internships. Be sure to have an up-to-date profile on Linked In.

In this field, a postgraduate degree or professional qualification is almost essential. Strong applicants are flexible, passionate about social issues, and good at handling stressful situations. They are able to work without structure under hardship conditions and can manage projects with sensitivity and respect for cultural differences. It is crucial to speak the relevant language and have an interest in international relations. Candidates with backgrounds in logistics, supply management, financial management, teaching, and human rights are often the most attractive. It is also helpful to have experience with budgeting, monitoring and evaluating programs.

The strongest candidates are often recruited directly by NGOs and relief agencies. Those with less experience are generally hired to provide support in headquarters and typically only see time in the field once they've proven themselves to their colleagues. However, if you want to work on the ground right away, you may consider moving to a major city near a target location and network in that area for an immediate opening. This will demonstrate commitment and initiative and may make senior field officers more willing to overlook your lack of experience. Relief Web is a database of humanitarian aid and development jobs.  UNjobfinder is a link to international organisations and NGOs specialising in humanitarian aid and development.

Sample Employers

International
 

UK

North America

 
Policy

Institutes

Key Links and Resources

Careers Centre online

Use CareerConnect, your central careers hub, to:

 

Useful Background Information

 

 USA